Transformation ought to focus on citizens – Kagame
President Paul Kagame has said that national and continental transformation ought to focus primarily on investing in citizens.
President Kagame was speaking at the second African Transformation Forum, in Accra, Ghana alongside Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, Côte d’Ivoire’s Vice President Kablan Duncan and prominent members of the private sector from across Africa.
The first African Transformation Forum that took place in Kigali in March 2016 concluded with the establishment of the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), a peer learning platform for governments, policymakers, policy analysts, and other stakeholders to collaborate in support of economic transformation.
Kagame called for action to address the discrepancy between the poverty of Africa’s citizens and the abundance of natural and other resources across the continent.
“It is evident that Africa has all kinds of resources for us to move fast if we want to and there is no excuse, we haven’t found any justification that says Africa has an abundance of natural resources whether human or natural resources and yet continues to be poor decade after decade. There is no excuse for us to be like this,” the head of state observed.
“We are talking about the management of these resources and the political will and process that must accompany all these actions for us to be where we want to be,” Kagame added.
Calling for urgent change of approach, the African Union Chairperson said key components to transformation lie in investing in citizens as well as forging partnerships between private and public sector.
President Kagame, who is also the African Union Chair, observed that a common challenge in changing the status quo is often executing solutions and challenging poor mindsets.
“One thing we must all understand is that it is not just about understanding the problem but how effectively you execute the solutions. We all share a common understanding of these as priorities but execution is where the problem lies and this is a mindset issue,” he said.
In reaction to the growing nationalism in many western countries, Kagame said that the continent’s best chances lie in working together through aspects such as intra-Africa trade.
“If the rest of the world is shunning Africa and saying they want to be more inward looking, it is a reminder to us that the closer we come together and the more intra Africa trade we engage in the better off we are. The failure to do so bears consequences,” he said.
The African Union is targeting to have at least 30 African countries to have ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) to kick off implementation.
So far, four countries – Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana and Niger, have submitted their instruments of ratification to the African Union Secretariat in Addis, Ethiopia.